Use this central square as a base for sightseeing, or as a vantage point to watch the crowds and take in Munich’s famous carillon.
Considered the heart of Munich, Marienplatz is a busy square full of pedestrians, street performers and tour groups. Peaceful protests often take place here, as do rowdy celebrations when one of the local soccer teams wins.
Marienplatz takes its name from Mariensäule (Mary’s Column), a pillar erected in the square in 1638 to honor St. Mary. The square had been used as a market before the Viktualienmarkt was moved to a larger site in 1807.
In the Christmas season, markets return as a permanent fixture on the Marienplatz. Visit during this time to sip on mulled wine and enjoy the smell of roasted chestnuts and sugared almonds that wafts over the square. Scout through stalls to find handcrafted wooden nativity figures and glass Christmas ornaments to take home. This Christmas market’s origins date back the as far as the 14th century.
The Marienplatz offers a full view of the front of the Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall). This council building was built between 1867 and 1909, and its magnificent façade is ornately decorated in the gothic revival style.
Munich’s famous carillon, the Glockenspiel, was built into the New Town Hall in 1908. Take a place on the Marienplatz or find a seat at an outdoor café for a view of the mechanical dancers who perform at 11 a.m. and noon every day, and at 5 p.m. in the summer months. The Glockenspiel’s 32 copper figures represent different times and elements of Munich’s long and textured history. While the figures dance, 43 bells ring out loudly over the square.
The Marienplatz is home to a U-Bahn (subway) station and it is easily accessible by foot within the city. It is often used as a meeting point.